Karapiro Power Station

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Karapiro Power Station
KarapiroDam.jpg
Part of the Karapiro Dam.
Karapiro Power Station is located in New Zealand
Karapiro Power Station
Location of Karapiro Power Station in New Zealand
Country New Zealand
Location near Cambridge, Waikato
Coordinates 37°55′26″S 175°32′21″E / 37.92389°S 175.53917°E / -37.92389; 175.53917Coordinates: 37°55′26″S 175°32′21″E / 37.92389°S 175.53917°E / -37.92389; 175.53917
Status Operational
Construction began 1940 (1940)
Opening date May 1948 (May 1948)
Owner(s) Mercury Energy
Dam and spillways
Type of dam Arch dam
Impounds Waikato River
Height 52.4 m (172 ft)[1]
Length 335 m (1,099 ft)[1]
Width (crest) 2.4 m (7 ft 10 in)[1]
Width (base) 15.2 m (50 ft)[1]
Spillways Four
Reservoir
Creates Lake Karapiro
Surface area 7.7 km2 (3.0 sq mi)
Maximum water depth 30.5 m (100 ft)
Power station
Type Conventional
Hydraulic head 30 m (98 ft)
Turbines 3 × Kaplan
Installed capacity 90 MW
Annual generation 525 GWh


The Karapiro Power Station is a hydroelectric power station on Waikato River, in the North Island of New Zealand. The power station lies on Lake Karapiro, a major rowing regatta venue.[2] Karapiro is 30 kilometres (19 mi) upstream from the city of Hamilton and is the last of the eight hydroelectric power stations on the Waikato River.

Karapiro is a baseload power station, as it is required to maintain water flow in the lower Waikato River even during low inflows to the catchment and during low electricity demand. Only two turbines are required to keep the river flow at a reasonable level, with the third turbine being available for peak generation and maintenance on one of the other turbines.

Like all of the hydroelectric power stations on the Waikato River, Karapiro is operated by electricity generator Mercury Energy.

History[edit]

Karapiro was the second power station built in the Waikato hydro scheme. Construction of the dam and power station began in 1940, but a materials and labour shortage due to World War II meant progress was slow. The station was completed in 1947, four years behind schedule.[3]

The creation of Lake Karapiro behind the dam flooded the Horahora Power Station, the first power station built on the Waikato River.

The bridge over the spillway is the only road access to the turbine hall. The first bridge had a supporting column in the center of the bridge. The bridge was destroyed by the water running through the spillway in a significant flood event (Source: Mighty River Photo archives). The replacement bridge is as you see today with no supporting column.

To the left of the four spillway gates are three siphon tubes. These were designed for the management of the lake level under normal river flow and the spillway gates were to be used in only extreme conditions. The design of the siphon tubes was faulty: The flow of water was supposed to be stopped by a blast of air, but this never worked properly - resulting in the spillway gates to be used for lake level control.

Generation[edit]

The Dam's spillway.

Karapiro's powerhouse is located on the northern bank of the river, with a diversion tunnel and spillway also on the northern bank. The river is dammed by a concrete arch dam south of the powerhouse, with the electricity substation on the southern bank of the river.

Water from Lake Karapiro runs through the penstocks to three Kaplan turbines. Each turbine turns a generator, outputting 32 megawatts of electricity each at 11,000 volts. Around 3,770 litres (830 imp gal; 1,000 US gal) of water every second is required to run through the turbines to generate 1 MW of electricity.

Karapiro is controlled remotely by Mercury Energy's Waikato River control room in Hamilton.

Transmission[edit]

Electricity generated by Karapiro is stepped-up at the powerhouse to 110 kV, and then is sent across the dam to the Karapiro substation on the other side. Karapiro, along with Arapuni, connect to the 110 kV grid, rather than the 220 kV grid like other stations on the Waikato River.

From Karapiro, electricity is transmitted by a twin-circuit 110 kV line (HAM-KPO-A) to Hamilton, via Cambridge, where Karapiro's electricity is distributed to Hamilton, northern Waikato, and Auckland. Electricity from Karapiro is also distributed via two single-circuit 110 kV lines to Te Awamutu (KPO-TMU-A) and Hinerua, near Matamata (HIN-KPO-A).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Karapiro technical information". Mighty River Power. Archived from the original on 10 June 2011. Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  2. ^ "Karapiro Rowing". Karapiro Rowing. Retrieved 10 March 2016. 
  3. ^ "Karapiro History". Mighty River Power. Archived from the original on 10 June 2011. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Martin, John E, ed. (1991). People, Power and Power Stations: Electric Power Generation in New Zealand 1880 - 1990. Wellington: Bridget Williams Books Ltd and Electricity Corporation of New Zealand. pp. 316 pages. ISBN 0-908912-16-1. 
  • Reilly, Helen (2008). Connecting the Country: New Zealand’s National Grid 1886 - 2007. Wellington: Steele Roberts. ISBN 978-1-877448-40-9. 

External links[edit]